Ask chefs about the connection between food and music, and they have a lot to say. In the wake of a long, silent year—and as many of us now look forward to gathering together again—we’ve asked six of Greenville’s expert culinarians to share their favorite tunes to inspire your personal cooking and entertaining adventures.
“Early in the pandemic I would work alone in the kitchen and one front of house staff member. It would be hectic and messy but we took turns with picking songs, trying to keep the energy up or making silly connections from one song to the next—but the playlists that came out of those Mondays have persisted throughout the year.
When we are prepping ingredients, we go for more classic rock or folk. During service, I try to keep it chill, but with enough rhythm to keep everyone moving: a lot of Future Islands, Beach House, The National, The Japanese House, Muse, Bleachers.
Closing down, all bets are off. Usually someone will start it off with some kind of rap and from there we just go. The right music playing while you do all the terrible things needed doing while you close a kitchen can make or break you as a chef.
Some nights, when everyone is pretty much done, we’ll chill at the bar and I’ll start crashing. ‘Alex is caught in his feels,’ they will say when I start playing things like Halo by Beyoncé, Dead Hearts by Stars, Stay by Rihanna, Exile by Taylor Swift, Goodbye by Porches, Dancing on my Own by Robyn, Technicolour Beat by Oh Wonder or anything by Cigarettes After Sex or Somebody Else by the 1975 (or the Verité cover of that song, which is bangin’).
Something about playing the ‘in my feels’ songs let’s me externalize things to a degree, giving my mind time to process what happened in the day, and what needs to happen the next day—allowing for conversations with the crew about how we are all doing, how we are all still trying to deal with a lot in this industry.”
“While this is my go-to album for prep time, it’s usually when I am alone in the kitchen. It’s all songs from my teenage to twenties years, so I use it to really get hustling about my day.”
“Many cultures greet one another with, ‘Have you eaten?’ One of the best parts of being a chef is knowing our guests have come to us to eat. Opening up, being able to gather, feed people and encourage their good memories and laughter is a dose of the feels I think we can all use right now. Add in some tunes, and it makes for an awesome experience!”
“When guests and staff are around, I like to mellow a bit, so I transition to this playlist.”
Anthony Harris, executive chef, Holly Tree Country Club
“It’s good seeing people be able to gather and enjoy each other’s company with good food and wine. I think music is a very important part of that. It sets the ambiance. We play music in the kitchen constantly. I believe a silent kitchen is a lonely kitchen—like working in a gulag. We (my staff) spend too much time here for it not to be fun and uplifting. I’ve noticed that our members are increasingly using the restaurant now as opposed to when I first arrived.”
ANTHONY’S FAVORITE ALBUMS:
“Food and Music! That’s my jam! This playlist is one I created at Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, North Carolina. It fit the vibe up there. It’s hard to pick all the songs, but they are hand-selected by me. You have to keep them chill but interesting.”
“Music is essential in the kitchen. Though I don’t usually have the attention span for whole albums, I have been running through Paula Abdul’s greatest hits lately. Usually I just hit shuffle on my library, which I’ve been told can be a little jarring. Buck Owens followed by Lil Kim can be a sharp pivot, but it all keeps me moving.
After the longest year ever we were finally able to set up at a live music event out at Quest Brewing Co. a couple weeks ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to go to work. You can definitely feel the energy. People are so grateful to be able to gather again.”
“Some of my go-to’s would be the Brothers and El Camino albums by The Black Keys, Self Titled Album by Big Black Delta, and the Kitchen Swagger playlist on Spotify has a great mix of fresh new r&b and classic soul.
When it comes to people getting back together for both food and music experiences, I think music is so crucial. From a business perspective, this past year has been brutal. We obviously need as much business as we can get, but on a personal level, this past year has made me realize how much I need and appreciate the memories made over food and music. 2021 has shown us there is still a lot of division. If we can help bridge that gap with food and tunes, old friends and new, we really want to be a part of it.”